Maria Jose De La Cruz Opens Up About Her Journey With Insider
In this interview, Maria Jose De La Cruz talks about her life as an artist and a creator. Originally from Mexico City, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dream in 2019, and has been taking part in award-nominated projects to keep stories alive. She shares about her background in acting, as well as her other passions, such as dancing, writing, and being a black belt in Taekwondo.
HI, WELCOME TO ABOUT INSIDER! THANKS FOR TAKING THE TIME TO CHAT WITH US! CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF, WHO IS MARIA JOSE DE LA CRUZ IN YOUR OWN WORDS?
Maria Jose De La Cruz is ,to me, an artist and a creator. From dancing, to acting, to writing I try to explore and keep exploring different ways to tell stories and move people. I grew up in Mexico City, with a Spanish dad and Mexican mom, so my upbringing has been a mixture of both cultures in the best, most colorful ways. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my dream in 2019, when I got a merit scholarship at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and ever since I have been taking part in award nominated projects to keep stories alive. Working out here has let me meet amazing creators and artists with whom I’ve collaborated and worked with, and many more to come.
CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND IN ACTING AND HOW YOU GOT STARTED IN THE INDUSTRY?
I always wanted to be a performer, one way or another, at nine years old I asked my parents to take me to the local circus to be a contortionist. Then that turned into wanting to be part of a band and shortly after realizing that my true love was acting. My school in Mexico wasn’t the most dramatic-driven or focused, so I took the courses I could there and later trained with Luis Mandoki. An award winning Mexican director, which consolidated my passion for acting where I later graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts here in L.A. Where I really learned the craft and the respect that acting must have to portray it in its purest truth. That’s what people don’t realize about acting, it’s never about lying but about telling the truth of that story. Now, I trained for a couple of months at Ivanna Chubbuck’s studio and I am looking into furthering my comedic training at the Groundlings.
YOU MENTIONED THAT YOU’RE ALSO A DANCER, A WRITER, AND A BLACKBELT IN TAEKWONDO. HOW DO THESE OTHER PASSIONS INFLUENCE YOUR WORK AS AN ACTRESS?
I am a strong believer that art melts into each other no matter the field of study, and once you have all the tools in play you really get to explore it. I wrote, directed and acted in a solo performance piece which was sort of an ode to all of the passions talked about above. It had to be a 15 minute autobiographical piece which only had me in it, and there was everything from dancing to kicks to even some guitar playing in there as well as having written the piece. It showed me so much of how I relate as an artist and as a performer. I think innately all of these different passions have given me different sets of characteristics to my essence and my art. I think Taekwondo has definitely brought a little more edge and paired with the dance they both have made me very aware and comfortable in my own body and how to use it. With dancing there is also the factor of rhythmics and the lyrical part that isn’t necessarily explained and I think there I meet as well with the writing and creating that lyricalness for someone else.
YOUR LATEST SHORT FILM ADDRESSES THE ISSUE OF FEMICIDES IN MEXICO. CAN YOU SHARE WITH US MORE ABOUT THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE FILM AND THE IMPACT YOU HOPE IT WILL HAVE?
I am from Mexico City, I think it is a beautiful country and a beautiful culture to say the least, and I couldn’t be more proud to be from there. Unfortunately, there is a very sad reality in Mexico which is on average 8 women disappearing a day. That is only a day, and many of which are never found and the ones that are, are found dead or mutilated. The Mexican government has found it very easy to turn a blind eye and not talk about it, or diminish those who try to. The women in Mexico are very tired of this injustice, as am I. So with this short we hope we can make more noise and continue fighting the fights for women’s rights and lives to be protected in their own country. Daniela Gonzalez, who is the writer and director of this project, when we talked about it, shared that she herself had lived unnecessary situations where she was in the disadvantage and danger because of being a woman in Mexico. This is what inspired this short, and what has been my main motivation when it comes to acting, and that is giving a voice to so many that don’t have one. Hopefully this way, addressing the matter another time of many, we continue to raise awareness until it can no longer be ignored.
YOUR RECENT PROJECT EXPLORED THE COMPLEX RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN A MOTHER AND DAUGHTER. WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO TACKLE SUCH AN EMOTIONAL TOPIC, AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THE EXPERIENCE?
It was particularly hard because ironically, I have a very good relationship with my mother, she’s always been a support and an inspiration to me. But I feel like we all have felt unseen and unheard by our parents at some point, and that’s really where it all starts. Having a single emotion or memory to relate with your character to become them. I think that house problems are also very much not talked about because of how “mundane” or common they have been labeled, when I think they are the hardest ones to point out and overcome. I had a very emotionally demanding scene for this project which emulated what it is to have a panic attack, and I don’t know if you’ve ever had one, but it is not a nice experience. The director for this project, Adelaide Burrows, is extremely talented and thoughtful for her cast and crew- so she created a very safe and calming environment to allow myself to go deep into it and come back from it safely too. I learned a lot about myself and my limits on this project, and what I take away the most is with the right training and the right crew, it is truly magical what letting yourself trust can lead you to create.
YOU’RE ALSO EXPLORING YOUR BACKGROUND IN MARTIAL ARTS AND CREATING A SERIES OF EPISODES THAT CENTER AROUND STAGE COMBAT. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THIS PROJECT AND HOW IT FITS INTO YOUR OVERALL CREATIVE VISION?
I’ve always been a huge fan of action thrillers and movies, one of my dreams is to be part of the MCU universe. So this project is definitely something that fits into my overall vision and trajectory. I have the honor to work with the amazing David Christian Bailey for this, who is a very talented actor, writer and fight choreographer. We both share the same background and aspirations to make the episodes center in what we need them to, and bring to life that adrenaline and credibility of the physical world of filming.
WHAT’S SOMETHING WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT MIGHT SURPRISE US?
I wrote, directed and performed a 15 minute autobiographical solo piece, where I dove into all my different “personas” or personalities. Sort of all the different people I get to be, when I am happy, or angry or I need to stand up to someone, or when I believe I can do it all. As a kid I tried almost everything when it came to sports and activities, I rarely could just stay put so I went through it all- here are some of them; Gymnastics, Flamenco, Synchronized Swimming, Tennis, Basketball, Irish dancing, Ballet and of course, Taekwondo.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE AS AN ACTRESS IN HOLLYWOOD SO FAR, AND HOW HAVE YOU OVERCOME IT?
To be seen and taken seriously as a Latina. There are a lot of stereotypes, stereotypes I am trying to break in the industry, of how Latinos look and sound. I don’t necessarily fit that idea, I don’t have an accent but there are many Latinos that don’t. I have blonde hair and blue eyes, and there are many latinos that do too, but I also know that the majority don’t and they are also not necessarily as represented. So I fall in some sort of middle ground where I want to fight for my roots whilst also not taking away opportunities for representation, even though I believe I do represent Mexico and my roots, because I am even if I am not perceived that way.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ASPIRING ACTORS AND CREATIVES WHO ARE JUST STARTING OUT IN THE INDUSTRY?
Trust that you can’t see the bigger picture. I think one of the things that scared me the most was that there was so much I didn’t understand or have control over, but some things I didn’t have to understand just yet. I just had to trust in my work and how that was going to pay off by itself.
WHERE CAN OUR READERS FIND YOU ONLINE?
My most updated is definitely going to be @majo.delacruz but they should follow me on ImDB @María José De La Cruz as well for all my future projects.
Check the YouTube link here:
Check the solo performance here: vimeo.com/697169449/28ca5b05e7